Licensed and Certified Staff

Immediate appointments available. Call now (402) 434-2730 to schedule appointment with one of our licensed counselors, psychologists, APRNs or physicians.

Rick McNeese, PhD - Send Dr. McNeese a message

Dr. McNeese is a Licensed Psychologist with many interests including Individual & Family Counseling, EMDR, Court Evaluations, Psychological Testing & Assessments, Addiction Medicine, Evaluation & Treatment Consulting, and Healthcare Consulting. Dr. McNeese is the President & Clinical Director of all First Step services and programs. He has a passion for multidisciplinary teamwork, training and consulting using integrated health care as a focus. He knows the importance of coordinating mental health and substance abuse treatment with the medical community, other community agencies, the justice system and other professionals. He has a BS in Biopsychology from Nebraska Wesleyan University and a Doctorate from Texas Christian University. Dr. McNeese has experience in multiple settings including academia, family practice residency, criminal justice and private practice.

Wes Sime, PhD, MPH, PhD - Send Dr. Sime a message

Dr. Sime is a Licensed Psychologist with special interests including Individual & Family Counseling, Biofeedback and Psychophysiological Therapy, EMDR for Trauma, Sports Psychology & Health Psychology.  He is skilled in Behavioral Medicine, Psychological Testing and Treatment of Stress & Pain Related Disorders. He has a passion for Optimal Performance as it relates to career development, life coaching for the “bounce back” factor when disappointment and loss enter our lives.  Wes knows when and how to coordinate therapy services with the medical community and with other professional resources in Lincoln and across the country. Dr. Sime is a Professor Emeritus in Health and Human Performance at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln having earned a Ph.D from the University of Pittsburgh. Wes also received a second Doctorate (in Counseling) from the University of Nebraska where he also taught for almost 30 years. Dr. Sime is a Certified Consultant through the Association for Applied Sport Psychology and Board Certified in Biofeedback and Stress Management by the Biofeedback Certification International Alliance (BCIA).

Scott Schmidt, DO - Send Dr. Schmidt a message

Dr. Scott Schmidt is a native Nebraskan and grew up on the family farm outside of Cook.  He started his medical career at the age of 15 when he became an EMT.  Dr. Schmidt worked as a paramedic in Kansas City, MO and Lincoln before attending college at NE Wesleyan University.  He went to medical school in Des Moines, IA and completed his residency in Emergency Medicine in Cleveland, OH. Dr. Schmidt is board certified in Emergency Medicine and Addiction Medicine (ABAM certification #2015397).  After working as an attending physician in Emergency Medicine for over 10 years at St. Elizabeth Regional Medical Center, he decided to make a career change and pursue Addiction Medicine.  In addition to working at First Step, Dr. Schmidt is also the Medical Director at the BAART Community Health Center in Omaha and does Quality Assurance for the EMS division of Lincoln Fire & Rescue. When he's not working, you can find him reading books, playing Words With Friends, or watching movies in his "man cave." Dr. Schmidt is accepting new patients now, call (402) 434-2730.

Rhonda Woodside, MSN, APRN - Send Rhonda a message

Rhonda is a Licensed Nurse Practitioner who provides psychiatric and Medicine Assisted Treatment (MAT) Services at First Step. Rhonda coordinates medical care understanding the importance of integrated care in overall healthcare. Whether it be addiction medicine, psychotropic medication, or general health needs as basic as physicals or annual paps Rhonda is dedicated to bridging the gap for First Step patients who are working towards change. She believes that “cold turkey” is an outdated and uneducated attitude and she strives to provide any care necessary to make treatment and/or therapy more effective for those with substance abuse or mental health issues. Rhonda holds a Masters in Nursing Sciences with nearly 30 years’ experience in the medical field. She is currently an instructor at the Bryan College of Health Sciences and has been with Bryan for nearly 25 years. Rhonda believes that true change requires the integration of medical care which is inevitably improving patient health and outcomes. This practice makes it possible for patients to detox in the community, stabilize at home, and remain active participants in their lives avoiding expensive and more restrictive inpatient treatments while producing better outcomes.

Huong Le, APRN - Send Huong a message

When you meet Huong the first thing she will likely say when she greets you is "My name is Huong like moon". This has been her trademark introduction and as you can imagine has helped to avoid all the mispronunciations! Huong was born in Vietnam and moved to the United States when she was 15 months old.  She moved to Lincoln, Nebraska from Wichita, KS where she is currently working as a psychiatric nurse practitioner.  Huong is a Board Certified Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner who has experience in inpatient settings along with outpatient treatment, forensics, substance use disorders, adults with developmental disabilities, child and adolescents, and chronic mental illness. Huong’s ultimate goal is to open a no kill shelter for abandoned and abused animals.  Although she enjoys what she does as a nurse practitioner, she still finds time to rescue abandoned dogs and find good homes for them.  Her dog was an abandoned and abused dog that she found in Kansas who she named Lulu (her pride and joy).  Huong also enjoys fishing and her favorite catches are stripers and catfish, she is still trying to find the perfect lake to fish at in Nebraska. Huong is currently accepting new patients and would love to meet you.

Jared Ray, MA, LADC - Send Jared a message

Jared is the Director & Operations Coordinator at First Step. He has worked in substance abuse since 2002 and has practiced as a Licensed Alcohol & Drug Counselor in Nebraska since 2008. Jared supervises and oversees all operations at First Step including MAT Services, Substance Abuse Programs, Clinical Staff, Electronic Health Records, IT Services and Billing. Jared is a Nebraska Standardized Model Provider and has experience in all aspects of therapy & treatment. Jared has many passions and skills, especially engaging individuals and families and getting people the help that they need. He is gifted in coordinating patient care, connecting the dots for staff and patients, and innovative program development. Jared’s personal resilience is an asset and model to the individuals and families seeking permanent change.

Kerry Ropte, MA, LIMHP, LADC - Send Kerry a message

Kerry is a Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner and a Licensed Alcohol & Drug Counselor. She is the Treatment Coordinator for all Substance Abuse & Co-occurring Disorder Programs as well as one of First Step’s Assessment Specialists. Kerry was a caseworker with the Department of Health & Human Services for years prior to returning to school to pursue her masters degree. She brings invaluable experience and insight to the work that we do. Kerry enjoys being with family and friends, playing sports, scrap booking and camping. She is down to earth, non-judgmental, and an overall professional counselor with excellent clinical skills and solid family values. Kerry is a leader within the First Step culture making those around her better each day.

Duol Rut, MA, PLMHP - Send Duol a message

Duol is a Provisionally Licensed Mental Health Practitioner. He is the Coordinator for Adult Substance Abuse and Co-Occurring Disorders Programs in the evening. Duol is currently working on his Doctorate in Psychology specializing in Criminology & Justice Studies at the University of The Rockies located in Colorado Springs, CO. He provides individual and family therapy in addition to group therapy services. Duol is from Sudan originally and speaks Nuer, English and Arabic. Duol enjoys spending time with his family and is an altruistic counselor gaining strength from seeing individuals and families become stronger together. Duol is a patient centered counselor who believes in change and knows the value of resilience and integrity. Duol holds a deep belief in rehabilitation having extensive experience working with individuals with disabilities, mental health issues, and substance use. He is a reliable and dedicated member of the First Step team who cares deeply and goes the extra mile to ensure patient's needs are met.

Carrie Papenhagen, MA, LIMHP, LADC - Send Carrie a message

Carrie is a Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner and a Licensed Alcohol & Drug Counselor. She is the Treatment Coordinator for the Medicine Assisted Treatment Program as well as one of First Step’s Assessment Specialists. Carrie was a counselor at a local residential facility for 13 years prior to joining First Step in 2014. Carrie is a Nebraska Standardized Model Provider who specializes in DBT Therapy and has experience working with all areas of mental health and substance use disorders. Carrie enjoys being with family and friends, being actively involved in her children’s sports, and traveling. She is skilled in treatment planning and community resources with an exceptional knowledge of major mental illness and co-occurring disorders.

Tiffany Eisenbraun, MS, PLMHP - Send Tiffany a message

Tiffany is one the First Step Intake Coordinators and a proud Masters Level Graduate from South Dakota State University. She works closely with all of the clinical staff in the substance abuse program(s) and co-coordinates services for the adolescent programs at First Step. She is knowledgeable in clinical operations and counseling. She is someone who takes great pride in getting things right helping to connect the dots for First Step patients and your loved ones. Tiffany is extremely gifted clinically and intellectually with a real passion for counseling. She is a valuable member of the First Step team and key in serving patients where the clinical and business intersections meet, setting the stage for future clinical work. To schedule an appointment with Tiffany contact our office and request an appointment with her now.

Ivana Jelavic, MA, LIMHP - Send Ivana a message

Ivana is a Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner who provides quality mental health services that are easily accessible to all individuals. She is fluent in several Slavic languages as well as English and German. Ivana's goal is to empower people to change and to help individuals and families heal through the use of counseling, personal growth and development. She believes that mental health services cannot be a luxury item only affordable to those who have the resources. Ivana has been working with survivors of torture & war trauma from all over the world. She is passionate about the care of refugees and survivors of torture/war trauma as well as other victims of political and military violence. Ivana goes the extra mile for all coworkers and patients often making herself available before and after hours and will always make time for anyone in need. She has a great respect for people who have survived trauma and through this and her other gifts brings a unique strength and diversity to the First Step culture.

Katie Doud, PhD - Send Dr. Doud a message

Dr. Doud is a Provisionally Licensed Psychologist who specializes in helping individuals and families seeking relief from anxiety, depression, trauma and other issues. She believes that individuals and families experiencing problems deserve timely, compassionate, and skilled care in a safe environment and that therapy is one of the few opportunities where the focus is solely on your well-being, not things beyond your control. Dr. Doud will help to identify therapeutic goals then will guide you through the process of change, and she uses psychological testing instruments and measurement wisely in addition to other therapeutic tools applicable to life outside of the therapy session. Dr. Doud has completed several hundred hours working with domestic violence and family issues in the community prior to pursuing her doctorate so she has a good understanding and solid foundation for treating these issues as well. Dr. Doud is accepting new patients, to schedule call now (402) 434-2730.

Shane Meyer, MA, PLMHP - Send Shane a message

Shane is a Provisionally Licensed Mental Health Practitioner who specializes in helping individuals and families heal from anxiety, depression, trauma and other issues. Shane has been employed at The Nebraska Department of Corrections for over 20 years working with inmates who suffer from mental illness/substance use. He has specialized training and expertise in working with sexual offenders and is willing to provide services to this population in the community not only upon reentry but also presentence or non-offending. Shane likes to have a broad range of patients therefore doesn’t identify himself as a specialist in any specific area but instead has a passion for helping all individuals and families seeking counseling services. Shane enjoys spending time with his family and being active in his children’s sports. He has a great sense of humor, a solid clinical foundation to help those he serves, and a drive to touch lives and help people achieve.

Kiki Haakenstad, MA, LMHP - Send Kiki a message

Kiki is a Licensed Mental Health Practitioner that can really help with behavioral issues related to Depression, Anxiety Disorders, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder, and developmental issues such as Autism and Aspergers. Kiki is a parent to two developmentally delayed children which expands her understanding and empathy for the challenges parents face. Kiki is a giver in both her personal and professional life and treats all patients and their families as she does her own. She has 25 years of experience working with children and their families in a variety of ways treating behavioral and mental health issues. Kiki specializes in services with children ages 6-15, but is willing to see patients of all ages who need help. She has the experience, passion and expertise to find an effective treatment that is right for you or your loved one(s).

Lois Relys, MA, LIMHP - Send Lois a message

Lois is a Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner with years of experience. Her specialties include dissociative disorders, antisocial disorders, dealing with life transitions such as disability/illness, becoming a caregiver, severe & persistent mental illness, or changing/ending relationships. Lois has experience working with LGBTQ individuals, especially those struggling with their orientation or identity. She is experienced in treating depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety disorder(s) with training in interpersonal therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, assertiveness and relaxation training, and Multisystemic therapy (MST). Lois has a particular interest in the impact of personality traits on mental health and relationships and focuses on being present with patients using strengths to overcome and succeed. Lois primarily provides services in the community seeing many of her patients in their homes but also sees patients at the office and will make it work for her patients either way. Lois provides a nonjudgmental, relaxed atmosphere for individuals and families seeking help. She believes in working as a team to identify and treat problems, to generate strategies and plan for navigating future life stressors. Lois in an integral part of the treatment team who offers a unique perspective with an unconditional positive regard for all.

Kalika Jantzen, MA, LIMHP, LADC - Send Kalika a message

Kalika is a Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner and a Licensed Alcohol & Drug Counselor with several years of experience including both inpatient and outpatient levels of care. Kalika is originally from Southeast Nebraska and her favorite color is purple. She is a graduate of Nebraska Wesleyan University where she graduated with her Bachelor's Degree before going on to pursue her Master's Degree from Doane College in Lincoln. Kalika has specialized training in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) which she integrates into her counseling practices. She loves spending time with family, sports, traveling, gardening and watching movies. When asked what her favorite movie is she says there are too many to list, but anything with Leonardo DiCaprio is always at the top of her list!

Lisa Jones, PhD - Send Dr. Jones a message

Dr. Jones is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist originally from North Platte, NE. She graduated from Maxwell High School, University of Nebraska - Lincoln (UNL), Wake Forest University, and then back to UNL where she earned her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. Her Favorite color is pink and her favorite movie is Elf with Will Farrell (she makes her children watch it with her every year while they decorate the Christmas tree and drink hot chocolate!). She enjoys running, biking, and she loves to work in the yard and the flower gardens. Dr. Jones has specific specialized training in conducting forensic evaluations (including psychological assessments, substance use evaluations, co-occurring disorder evaluations, etc.), working with substance use disorders, and she also has specific training working with trauma. She denies having any special talents or superpowers, however her children often think she has psychic abilities for being able to know where they are, what they are doing, and where all their lost items are hiding. Dr. Jones is currently accepting new patients, call now (402) 434-2730 to schedule an appointment.

Francisca Peterson, M.Ed, LIMHP - Send Francisca a message

Francisca is a Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner who retired in 2013 from Lincoln Public Schools where she was a School Psychologist for several years. She has a part time practice at First Step and is active with other Hispanic & Latino Community Services and nonprofits. Francisca is a Refugee & War Trauma Specialist, Cross Cultural Counseling Specialist, and is Bilingual in English-Spanish. She provides Individual & Family Counseling, Cultural Consulting for the medical community, and has a passion for integrated care models with a multidisciplinary group of professionals expanding services for under served and minority populations.